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June 26, 1987

Long-term Sequelae Pondered in Anorexia Nervosa

JAMA. 1987;257(24):3324-3325. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390240014004

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DEPENDING ON THE STUDY, estimates of the incidence of anorexia nervosa among adolescent and young adult women range from 1% to 15%. The long-term effectiveness of treatment is uncertain, although over the short term intervention often can succeed in restoring normal weight and reversing endocrine and nutritional abnormalities.

Two studies presented at the Society for Adolescent Medicine meeting in Seattle—although preliminary in nature and based on data from a limited number of patients—hint at the possibility of two serious long-term or even irreversible health consequences for anorexics: osteoporosis and Cushing's disease.

The first study measured bone density in females 14 1/2 to 38 years of age with anorexia and primary or secondary amenorrhea. Using single photon absorptiometry, Elizabeth S. Ohlrich, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the Eating Disorders Program at the University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison, found that ten of 20 women had significantly decreased bone mineral density of the